Five people grew vegetables in Hilliard's three community gardens this season, but next year may produce a bumper crop of gardeners.

Five people grew vegetables in Hilliard’s three community gardens this season, but next year may produce a bumper crop of gardeners.

“We got off to a late start,” said Steve Mazer, the city’s director of recreation and parks. “We thought, better late than never. Next year, we’ll be up and ready to go.”

For their first year of service, Hilliard’s gardens didn’t open until June, which may have prevented some people from using them. In neighboring communities, many growers had already planted their crops by Memorial Day.

Mazer said one gardener planted at Hoffman Farms, two at Leap Road and two behind the senior center at Municipal Park.

“The five gardeners we had were thrilled. They want to come back next year,” Mazer said.

The gardeners grew tomatoes, carrots, beans and peppers, he said.

“What was impressive was they thought the quality of the soil was very good for planting in, and the majority of it used to be farmland. They appreciated the fact that the city made water available and kept the areas clean. There were no complaints whatsoever.”

Mazer said one gentleman who tended his garden religiously at the park would take some of his tomatoes in to the senior center.

The gardeners will have until “the latter part of November” to clear what they want from the plots, Mazer said.

“What we’ve asked folks to do is to leave everything there that they don’t want, stakes, compost, anything like that, and the city will pick it up. If they have trash, we’ll have trash receptacles out there for them as well.”

The city will start advertising the plots in February and till the ground in March. Gardeners will have until June 1 to get their crops in.

“We would really like to start a compost bin at all three locations as an added benefit for the gardeners so they could use that compost in their plantings,” Mazer said.

“We’ve already had a bunch of inquiries from people to get a plot next year. Next year will be first-come, first-served. The earlier people come in to buy a plot they’ll have the opportunity to pick the location. We have three areas, an abundance of plots available, three different sizes, and from all the inquiries we’ve gotten about buying a plot, I can really see us going from five to having dozens of gardeners next year.”